Cody Wilson, man behind first 3D gun, defends private ownership of biological weaponry [on On The Media]

It has been announced that the world’s first 3D-printed gun was fired Sunday.

The existence of the 3D gun is the result of Cody Wilson and his Defense Distributed, a group with the sole focus of making freely distributed plans for a printable gun.

Cody Wilson is a libertarian of the absurdly-deregulatory variety. Upon reading of his group’s 3D gun success I was reminded of an interview with On The Media from last year in which he defended the private ownership of biological weaponry.

Bob Garfield: To take the question to the extreme: If you can do, in your home using technology, the kinds of things for which there is no legitimate consume r use, let’s just say weapons grade anthrax. You nonetheless have no objection to it?

Cody Wilson: I think a civil libertarian would say: Why criminalize the possession of something or the creation of something in itself? It isn’t the weapons grade anthrax that’s evil in and of itself; it’s what you could do with that weapons grade anthrax. And so, the educated civil libertarian would say you can only punish the use of that anthrax for criminal purposes, not its creation or possession.
You know, and you use the word “legitimate.” Legitimate is a scary word. Legitimate to whom? Who makes the rules of legitimacy?

I suppose I could waste time talking about Wilson’s scoffing at the idea of defining legitimacy after he just got done offering his definition of it.

I also suppose I could point out the absurdity in allowing someone possession of an item which once misused, could devastate entire populations.

It should be easy to recognize a limitation on severely hazardous materials as being a beneficial and legitimate trade-off for public safety, but such basic reasoning seems beyond those who believe the individual’s ability to own anything regardless of the potential risk is paramount to a free society.

Liberty = fascism

Liberty is the new fascism, or at least in can be insofar as serving as an impediment to reasonable discourse.

I came across a gem, on an online discussion board, which I feel  illustrates the roadblock to reason posed by the liberto-fascist faithful. “The main point is that life is inherently unsafe. Anything could happen at any time, so we shouldn’t actively impair our liberty just for the sake of seeing another day,” the fearless defender of liberty asserts!

Such a claim is unreasonable, to say the least. As romantic as it may sound and feel to demand a life with full liberty or no life at all, it’s still an uniquely unreasonable position to take.

The very existence of government is an encroachment on the concept of absolute liberty(as if it were something that is realistically obtainable, or even existent.)

Even Benjamin Franklin, one of the supposed fathers of this line of thinking, differentiated between “essential liberty” and the lesser liberties, which could be reasonably exchanged for security.

There are reasonable trade-offs we make with liberty for security. A stiff-lipped demand for more or maintained liberty is as equally unreasonable as this panicked clamor for accepting tyranny in pursuit of absolute security that so many defenders of liberty pretend to hear.

There is a damn fine reason why bomb attacks aren’t more common, and it has a lot to do with far more dangerous materials being either regulated or restricted.

Imagine for a moment that bombs of all varieties of potential devastation were freely available for purchase. Can anyone realistically say that these tragedies would not be more prone to occur?

Chances are good that anyone politically engaged knows someone apt to make romantic appeals to liberty when discussing policy. One would expect those who find regulation so insufferable to lead the charge in rolling back existing safety policies, regardless of success rates. One would expect this, and there are indeed those people, but they are much rarer finds.

The truth of the matter is that, despite their cries for liberty, these people yield to a realistic preference for security when it comes down to it.

Few truly want to live in a society so full of liberty that it is devoid of security, and vice versa. Appeals to liberty, such as the one being discussed, are every bit as emotional as appeals to fear for a security policy. This is because at its root an appeal to liberty it is an appeal to fear.

There are valuable contributions to be made by people who claim to find extra value in liberty. However, many must reconcile their differences with others as a matter of degree, rather than principle, if honest, constructive dialogue is what they desire.

Unmarried, 51-year-old Ann Coulter says marriage is “the most important institution.”

Anne Coulter went on a squawk fest against John Stossel tonight, attacking libertarians and at one point branding them as “pussies.” Don’t be afraid to click that. It’s just a link to an article with the video.

Most interesting was her choice to preach the importance of defending marriage against the homosexual scourge. 

“Marriage is the most important institution to civilized young people,” said Coulter. She goes on to add that “liberals want to destroy the family.”

Interesting beliefs for someone who has neither married nor established any variety of family.

Is it really all about the Benjamins?

Those who would give up a rational discussion by purporting to know what a dead man would say about a modern issue deserve a reality check.

There is an appeal to authority that is often made in the realm of gun control talk. This appeal is in the form of a mutated strain of a Benjamin Franklin quote.

“Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” is what those wielders of Franklin’s infinite, immutable wisdom would have everyone believe. It’s most likely that these quote slingers honestly believe this is the quote in full, and are oblivious to the falsity they are peddling, as these things tend to have a viral quality.

This is the full quote:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Clearly there is a bit more nuance in this quote, and in its full form it reflects Franklin’s pragmatic thinking. Franklin makes it clear that there is a difference between essential liberty and any liberty and the scale of security which is achieved by the surrender of a liberty.

But even if he had written the quote in the obtuse form that it has mutated into, what authority could Franklin hold over such a modern matter? I’m not saying that the thoughts of great and long dead thinkers be discarded. But shouldn’t we consider the reality of their times before we go imposing their words on wholly modern issues?

Just think: What absolute advice could you possibly give today, specifically about public safety, citizens and weapon ownership, that would not be obsolete after another 250 years in technological advancement?

I can only think of one time-proof statement.

“The hell are you doing quoting me? We didn’t even have pocketable disintegration ray guns yet.”

Disingenuous Economics 101 with Stephen Moore

Wall Street Journal opinion writer, economics journalist and right-wing ideologue paid a visit to Troy University on Wednesday.

As a general rule, I don’t appreciate being painted an incomplete picture of a subject I’m not the best at by someone with superior knowledge. I appreciate it even less when I’m able to identify that it’s happening.

[PURPLE PROSE ALERT]
The day prior to Moore’s presentation I read a few of his articles, and viewed some of his television appearances online, so I was well prepared for the grinding of his ideological ax and the weaving of his economic obfuscations.

Despite a few attempts during the course of his presentation to assure the audience that he was somehow non-partisan in his conclusions, I knew better.

So it came as no surprise when the deluge his stat, figures and faulty conclusions began. By keeping a critical eye on his many graphics, I was able to pick out a number of things that didn’t jibe with reality, or that merely partially jibed with reality.

I will cover two of those things with the aid of a YouTube video of him performing the same presentation at another school, and the graphics I lifted from a copy of his PowerPoint slides I found with the almighty Google.

Thing 1:
In this portion of the video Moore makes the argument that the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent of earners created increased federal tax revenues from the 1 percent: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=32m15s

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

In arguing that tax breaks on the highest earners caused them to pay more in tax revenue, what he conveniently fails to state is that Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax plan also did other things. Most importantly, it lowered taxes on all other tax brackets, and raised the child tax credit from $500 to $1000.

Where is the shocker? When the people with the least amount of disposable income have more money to spend they spend it. Naturally, those in the 1% are the greatest beneficiaries of such a boon, and thus the increase in their tax contributions.

Their tax contributions increased not because of their tax rates being slashed, but because everyone else’s rates were as well.

Imagine the revenues that would have been picked up had the 1 percent’s taxes not been lowered.

Thing 2:

In this portion of the video he pretends that the education and health care industries are somehow comparable to industries that produce software, computers, apparel and vehicles: http://youtu.be/3tHO-j4xTHs?t=44m50s 

Click here for a clear image of the graphic he is using.

“Look at the two areas of the economy, setting aside energy, where we’ve had the biggest increase in prices over the last ten years,” Moore urges. “Health care and education, health care and education.”

He then insinuates the soaring costs in those industries are because of government involvement.

While I’m willing to concede that the public and private loan industries are not conducive to making universities competitive price-wise, it’s not enough to make me think the costs would be much lower sans government involvement.

How exactly are these industries subject to the same market forces? You can’t outsource: nurses, doctors, surgeons,  emergency medical technicians, teachers, administrators, janitors, lunch ladies, you get the idea.

Moore is just comparing industrial apples to oranges.